con·​tort | \ kən-ˈtȯrt How to pronounce contort (audio) \
contorted; contorting; contorts

Definition of contort

transitive verb

: to twist in a violent manner features contorted with fury

intransitive verb

: to twist into or as if into a strained shape or expression His face contorted in a grimace of pain.

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Other Words from contort

contortion \ kən-​ˈtȯr-​shən How to pronounce contortion (audio) \ noun
contortive \ kən-​ˈtȯr-​tiv How to pronounce contortive (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for contort

deform, distort, contort, warp means to mar or spoil by or as if by twisting. deform may imply a change of shape through stress, injury, or accident of growth. a face deformed by hatred distort and contort both imply a wrenching from the natural or normal, but contort suggests a more involved twisting and a more grotesque and painful result. the odd camera angle distorts the figure disease had contorted her body warp indicates an uneven shrinking that bends or twists out of a flat plane. warped floorboards

Did You Know?

Circus contortionists are known for twisting their bodies into pretzels; such contortions tend to be easier for females than for males, and much easier for the young than for the old. When trying to say something uncomfortable or dishonest, people often go through verbal contortions. But when someone else "twists" something you said or did, we usually say instead that they've distorted it.

Examples of contort in a Sentence

His body contorted with pain. The boy contorted his body to squeeze through the gate. Her face was contorted with rage.
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Recent Examples on the Web The sport, as a whole, should be contorting itself to make this work. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Instead of a Separate Competition, Let's Add Women to the Laver Cup," 25 Sep. 2019 As revelations of wrongdoing have piled up over the last two years, reactionary pundits (and, in one famous case, a family court judge) have contorted themselves to safeguard the innocence of men. Marella Gayla,, "In ‘Good Boys,’ sixth grade just isn’t what it used to be," 15 Aug. 2019 The wing is an oval, but while in flight, the pressure would force that to contort into a circle. Molly Quell, Ars Technica, "The Flying V would be unlike any other passenger airliner, even in 2040," 22 Oct. 2019 That idea is now commonplace in apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, which use AI software to instantly contort images of cats, nature scenes and people’s faces, often with convincing results. Anchorage Daily News, "Panic over Russian company’s FaceApp is sign of new distrust of Internet," 19 July 2019 The point is the singularity, an infinitely dense, unimaginably small dot contorting space so radically that anything nearby falls straight in, leaving behind a vacuum. Quanta Magazine, "Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn," 22 Aug. 2018 Upon learning this, Archie’s anger contorts into anguish. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, "How ‘Riverdale’ addressed Luke Perry’s untimely death," 10 Oct. 2019 GuiZhang Niu starred in a classic pole act, contorting his muscular frame into astonishing poses like a human flag. Jake Fischer,, "How Red Panda Became the NBA's Favorite Halftime Performer," 28 Aug. 2019 My face contorts to some ugly sob shape When Denny and Eve welcome their first child, Enzo gets a little human sister, Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "Here's how much I cried watching the new dog movie 'Art of Racing in the Rain'," 9 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contort.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contort

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for contort

Middle English, from Latin contortus, past participle of contorquēre, from com- + torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

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Learn More about contort

Time Traveler for contort

Time Traveler

The first known use of contort was in the 15th century

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Statistics for contort

Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contort.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for contort


How to pronounce contort (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contort

: to twist into an unusual appearance or shape


con·​tort | \ kən-ˈtȯrt How to pronounce contort (audio) \
contorted; contorting

Kids Definition of contort

: to give an unusual appearance or unnatural shape to by twisting His face contorted with anger.

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More from Merriam-Webster on contort

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contort

Spanish Central: Translation of contort

Nglish: Translation of contort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contort for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contort

What made you want to look up contort? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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